Media coverage

Below are some examples of media coverage of our research.  There’s probably more out there, but likely it derives from these original sources.


The following are all related to our work on flying snake gliding flight:

  1. Pentagon seeks flying snakes' secret.  By Marc Kaufman, The Washington Post, November 22, 2010. **Please note the that statement “It allows them to travel from the top of the biggest trees in the region (almost 200 feet high) to a spot about 780 feet away from the tree's trunk.” may be misleading if read incorrectly.  This statement refers to the possibility that the snakes can glide this far.  I provided Mr. Kaufman that figure as a hypothetical, calculated by extrapolating my published data: If the snake jumped from a tree roughly 60 meters high (197 ft) and traveled at a glide angle of 13°, it would cover roughly 237 m (778 ft) horizontally.  No real flying snake has ever been observed gliding this far.**

  2. Flying snakes' secret revealed. By Stephanie Pappas,, November 22, 2010.  Also found at and, among others.

  3. How snakes can fly.  By Ker Than, National Geographic Daily News, November 23, 2010.

  4. Flying snakes, caught on tape. From the AIP press release (written by Kathy Svitil) on, November 23, 2010.

  5. Video reveals how a flying snake slithers through the air. By Jennifer Walsh, Discover magazine 80beats blog, November 23, 2010.

  6. NPR All Things Considered.  Interview on NPR by Mary Louise Kelly, November 24, 2010.  Listen to the interview here.

  7. Sakes Alive! Snakes That Fly! By Mark Memmott, NPR “The Two-Way”, November 24, 2010.

  8. Daily Planet television segment.  An interview by the Daily Planet on Discovery Channel Canada, November 24, 2010.

  9. Video: See snakes fly: Virginia Tech researchers are learning how the reptiles are able to glide so gracefully to the ground.  By Jef Akst, The Scientist, November 24, 2010.

  10. Flying ophidians! Physicists uncover how snakes soar between trees. By Katherine Harmon, Scientific American online, November 24, 2010. (Note: none of us are actually physicists--of the four of us on the paper, two are biomechanists and two are engineers. I imagine physicists rolling their eyes, while we are complimented.)

  11. Pentagon wants secret of flying snakes. By Lee Speigel, AolNews, November 24, 2010.

  12. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s a flying snake. By Sindya Bhanoo, The New York Times, November 29, 2010.  (Note: Snakes were not ‘thrown’ from the tower.  They launched under their own volition.  See the journal article here.)

  13. Aerodynamics of flying snakes.  An online video piece by Reuters television produced by Marie Lora, December 2, 2010.

  14. Snakes with no #&%*$$!! plane!  An interview on the CBC Radio program Quirks and Quarks with Bob McDonald, December 4, 2010.   Listen here.

  15. The Conversation: Flying snakes?  An online interview with ABC News Video, December 7, 2010. (Note: they edited out Dr. Robert Dudley’s name, the professor I mentioned as my source of inspiration.)

A new, one hour film by National Geographic on gliding snakes and colugos:

  1. Snakes That Fly”  This program debuted on the National Geographic Channel on November 5, 2010, part of the series “Nature Untamed”.  The other researcher in the film is Norman Lim, who was one of my original flying snake team members from my research in Singapore in the early 2000’s.  Norman went on to study the ecology of colugos and is currently a graduate student at UC Davis.

The following are all related to the work on caterpillar locomotion:

  1. Caterpillar crawl could inspire new robots. By Roseanne Skirble, Voice of America, July 29, 2010.  Listen to the audio story here.

  2. Caterpillars' gut-sliding locomotion inspires soft-bodied robot development.  By Ben Coxworth,, July 27, 2010.

  3. New insight into a caterpillar’s crawl.  By Kenneth Chang, The New York Times, July 26, 2010.

  4. Studying caterpillars to design robots.  By Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Boston Globe, July 26, 2010.  (Note: Dr. Socha’s PhD advisor, Dr. Michael LaBarbera, is quoted.)

  5. Gut check: how do caterpillars walk?  By Geoffrey Brumfiel, NPR Morning Edition, July 23, 2010. Listen to the audio story here.  Dr. LaBarbera gets a nice audio quote.

  6. ‘Soft robots’ will use gut-wrenching propulsion method: Bowel-churning caterpillar boffinry breakthrough.  By Lewis Page, The Register, July 23, 2010.  Notable for usage of ‘boffins’ and ‘squidgy’.

  7. Gut movements in caterpillars have impact on robotic design. By Lynn Nystrom, Virginia Tech press release, July 22, 2010.  (Eureka Alert version of this story)

  8. Caterpillars move guts-first. By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News, July 22, 2010.

  9. Gut first. By Rachel Ehrenberg, Science News, July 22, 2010.

  10. Insect gut has mind of its own. Christina Luigi, The Scientist, July 22, 2010.  Also quotes Dr. LaBarbera.

  11. ScienceShot: Caterpillar's guts crawl independently of their bodies.  Kristen Minogue, Science, July 22, 2010.

  12. Unique means of animal locomotion reported for first time: Novel “two-body” system in caterpillars could have implications for robotics, human biomechanics.  By Kim Thurler, Tufts University press release, July 22, 2010.


  1. Bring fruit flies in from the cold. From the U. Western Ontario press release, plus other links to stories. December 21, 2009.

  2. The secrets of the lowly ground beetle could lead to better tissue engineering. By Lynn Nystrom, Virginia Tech press release, September 3, 2009.


  1. Why today’s bugs aren’t giant-sized. By Robin Lloyd,, August 14, 2007.

  2. Giant bugs a thing of the past, study suggests.  By Hope Hameshige, National Geographic  News, July 30, 2007.

  3. Beetle breathing highly complex, study finds. By Jeanna Bryer,, May 17, 2007.

  4. A complicated way of breathing.  By Stefan Anitel, Softpedia News, May 18, 2007.


  1. Journal Science “Netwatch” feature (pdf)Science 309:361,  July 15, 2005.

  2. University of Chicago researchers reveal secrets of snake flight. By Catherine Gianaro, University of Chicago press release, May 13, 2005.

  3. Flying snakes: new videos reveal how they do it. By Bjorn Carey,, May 12, 2005.

  4. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a snake!  By Lee Dye,, May 19, 2005.

  5. Look ma, no wings. Reader’s Digest Canada magazine, October 2005. p. 18.

  6. Those amazing young snakes are flying machines. By Lynn M. Savage, Biophotonics International magazine, July 2005, pp. 86-87.

  7. Audio: KW Magazine interview (FM 98.5 Waterloo, ON, Canada). KW Magazine. 8 min 47 sec, 6 mb mp3.

  8. Audio: 848 interview (Chicago Public Radio). Interviewer is Gianofer Fields, WBEZ Chicago, 848.  15 min 15 sec, 14.5 mb mp3.  (Link directly to 848’s site is here; scroll down to ‘Flying snakes’.)


  1. Snake Wranglers II: Flying Snakes.  National Geographic Television. First broadcast, March 2004.  A half hour program about on our flying snake research.


  1. Serpents in the air (a little contortionist goes a long way). By Adam Summers, Natural History magazine, May 2003. pp. 38-39.


  1. Expert tackles mysteries of soaring snakes. By Nancy Moffett, Chicago Sun-Times, December 24, 2002.

  2. When snakes fly.  By Henry Fountain. The New York Times, August 13, 2002.

  3. Remarkable wingless aeronautics. The Economist, August 10, 2002.

  4. Slithering on Air: Flying snakes glide through the treetops. By Kristin Cobb. Science News, Aug. 10, 2002.

  5. Tropical snake flies from trees. By Al Swanson, UPI.  August 8, 2002.

  6. Where serpents go soaring. By Jim Ritter. Chicago Sun-Times, August 8, 2002

  7. New snake footage uncoils mystery of flying serpents. By John Roach. National Geographic  News, August 8, 2002.

  8. Fancy moves propel Singapore serpent's acrobatics. By Ann Kellan. Broadcast on CNN and, August 8, 2002.

  9. Tired of walking fish? Try flying snake.  (Reuters), August 8, 2002.

General features:

  1. National Geographic flying snake profile

  2. Seed magazine photography profile: “Jake’s flying snakes”.  (Link directly to photography.)


Lab press